Part 1


Notes

This was meant as a get-well gift for Silver Rayne. But two things happened. 1) I couldn't cheer the Lord of Darkness herself up if I tried, and 2) read my name. By the time I got this finished she was better. Go figure.

Also, I'm carrying on the time-honored tradition of placing character thoughts in slashes. You should know that by now, unless you've been looking purely at upper-class writing, with their little italics. .txt rules!

Yes. I KNOW I spell "tonight" like I've watched too much late nite television, but if you don't like it you can save this story on a disk and go through and change EACH ONE for your next reading. I like provoking pet peeves, the gods know enough people provoke mine.

None of these characters are mine, and I'd be happy if Squaresoft could find some way to remove the perverts from my brain, but nothing doing.

Cid and Vincent. ^^


It was still dark out. It was always dark there; a deep, ugly dark, made even worse because not only was it permanent, but it was man-made.

The darkness didn't do too much for anyone's mood. There was something off about everything, something that no one seemed to be able to shake. It seemed like more than the nervous anticipation of finding Sephiroth, which was a constant in their lives now. Tonite everything seemed more gloomy than usual.

Vincent could feel the chill of the mood acutely as he stood by the window, claw tapping the sill. He hated this place. It was insane. Who would want to sleep in a place like this, somewhere with a staff that used water damage as decor? Experimentally, Vincent scratched the sill with the hooked talon he had as an excuse for an index finger on his left hand. It splintered away easily. The hotel had been built less than ten years ago, from what he heard. Sighing, he stared back out the window at the artificial storm.

"You could at least try not to be so fucking moody."

Vincent turned and looked at the man sprawling in the room's single chair and using the bed as a footrest, sharpening his spear. He appeared more interested in that than in Vincent's mood but chanced a look up at the taller man. Vincent held his eyes and said, "I wouldn't expect you to understand."

"Hmph. Well, you have a choice. You can stand there moping about fuck-knows-what until either you commit suicide or I do it for you, or you can tell me what the hell is the matter."

Turning back to look out the window, Vincent said, "I thought you were sleeping down there."

The man grinned and replied, "That's Cloud's talks doing that, not my being tired. Anyway, you're changing the subject."

"You're lucky I let you smoke in here, Cid Highwind. I don't need to let you play shrink with me as well," Vincent said with more than a hint of disdain.

Cid shrugged. "Fine, your decision. Just try not to become a member of the staff here."

Vincent sighed, splintering the windowsill again and thinking about Cid's offer. It would be wonderful to tell someone, anyone, about all he had gone through. Why not Cid? He was a loud and constant curser, but didn't seem too bad underneath all that gruff exterior. A typical engineer type, Vincent supposed, but there seemed to be more to the man as well. Enough to talk to? Vincent asked himself silently. On one side, talking about everything that occurred before his long sleep, something no one knew about but himself, was one step closer to sanity. On the other... he shook his head. To talk about Hojo was something he never wanted to do. Thirty years in a coffin had done nothing to heal the wounds, physical or mental. He held his hand against his shirt, over the scar from the gunshot wound. It still hurt, somehow. What had they called that in that regulatory health class before he was fully a Turk? Phantom wounds? It didn't matter.

He glanced back at Cid, who was still working on the weapon, and decided that he might as well tell him about it. He might not understand, but he probably wouldn't ridicule him about it and definitely wouldn't spread it.

"It's a long story."

Cid glanced back up. "You want to talk about it here?"

"Let's go to the bar..." he replied, looking down at his hands. "At any rate, it might make things easier."

"I like your way of thinking," Cid said, grinning. "C'mon. You tell me all about it and I'll buy your way into oblivion."

Vincent grinned softly and said, "Oblivion... that sounds nice enough, at least for tonite."

"Gods, I don't think I've ever seen you smile. You keep it up and I'll buy you another ticket to oblivion some other time."

Cid propped the spear up against the wall and raised his eyebrow at Vincent re-holstering his gun, but decided not to comment on it. If he's paranoid, that's his problem, not yours. Shit, these are all his fucking problems! What the hell do you think you're doing? Cid asked himself as they left the room. Still, he couldn't hold back on his promise to listen to Vincent. And get him stark raving drunk. You know full well what the fuck you're doing, and if you end up with a few new holes in your gut...

They walked to the bar in a companionable silence. The drinks, like everything, were as overpriced as hell, but Cid thought it was well worth it to get Vincent to talk. He bought a bottle of what the bartender assured was the "strongest shit in the house" and he and Vincent went to a booth in the far corner so they could lean up against the wall if they got too amazingly smashed.

"So, where do you want me to start," Vincent said quietly.

Cid grinned and uncapped the bottle. "You start by taking a good swig of this. Then it won't matter where you start."

"What, no glasses?"

"I'm sure they'd charge us an extra 5000 gil just to borrow the fucking things."

Vincent laughed a little and shrugged, taking a small hit from the bottle. It took some control not to spit it back out. "Gods! What the hell is that?!"

"I don't think I've ever heard you laugh or swear, either. Here, let's see what he gave us," Cid said, taking back the bottle. "Shit, that IS strong," he cursed, shaking his head and wincing a little. "Near as I can tell, it's vodka, but it tastes like they added something else to it. Let's just pray it's not shellac."

Laughing, Vincent took another swig from the bottle. "Yeah, I think it's working. Maybe it doesn't matter where I start, after all. I guess the beginning is good enough... This all really started when I first became a Turk... I think that was about 37 years ago. I was 20 then... just eager to get out of Wutai, I guess."

"You're from Wutai?" Cid interrupted, matching Vincent's last drink.

"Yes, I am..." he grabbed the bottle back and rolled it nervously around in his hands. "I guess I just never thought of telling anyone about that."

"I guess that you look it, now that you mention it... Oh, hey, go on."

"Sure. Wutai was... and still is... a crazy place. If I stayed there, I would have had to go on working as my parents and their parents did-fishing."

He smiled slightly at Cid's nearly suppressed laugh. "I know," he said, waving away Cid's attempt at apologizing, "it doesn't really suit me much, does it?

"I had a pretty normal childhood, I guess. As far as they go. Until the war with Shin-ra broke out. It was a long war... a very long war, but you know that. It went on for years after I was put into that coffin, as well. I guess that's important to this story because it insured that I would be a man of no national identity... I was rejected in Wutai for turning to Midgar, and rejected in Midgar for being from Wutai. Even though I was treated harshly in Midgar, I was still accepted into the Turks. I don't think that the true upper rungs of Shin-ra cared about that too much. Tseng's from Wutai. Hojo is as well..."

"Hey, hold it right there. Hojo's only a couple of years older than you, isn't he? You didn't say anything about meeting him before..."

Vincent rubbed his temples with his one good hand. "Strangely enough, I cannot remember him from Wutai. I believe he was sent to Midgar for education very early. From what I heard later, when I got to Midgar, his family was quite affluent. They are probably well gone by now... I do not wish to speak of him anymore," Vincent snapped, drawing his cape tighter to himself.

Cid shoved the bottle across the table to him, and said, "I'm sorry I brought it up. Tell me about Midgar." Safe enough subject, I hope... he thought.

Vincent smiled sadly in thanks at the topic change. "Being a Turk came easy enough for me. I was bright, rather young, and a good shot..."

Vincent went on, almost as if in a trance, through the stories about training and schooling in Midgar; through his first meeting with Lucrecia and many others, somehow even getting through his introduction to Hojo without totally breaking down; and through some old assignments he was given as a Turk. But once he got up to those last few days in Nibelheim, Cid could tell he was shaking. He reached across the table and put a hand on Vincent's shoulder, snapping him out of the memories. "Hey," he reassured when Vincent looked up like a deer in headlights, "You don't have to go on, Vincent. It's alright."

"Of course I have to go on, Cid! This is why I'm like I am, this last part!" Vincent argued, still shaking. Cid nodded and offered him the last of the vodka-like drink. Vincent finished it off, calming down, and then said, "I'm not really a drinker, but..."

"Yeah, don't worry about it," Cid interjected, "It sounds like you could use another."

"I can pay this time." Vincent started for his money.

"Nah, I don't think you've quite hit the oblivion mark, and I said I was paying until you got there. Anyway, you're the best company for getting hammered that I've ever had."

Vincent grinned, albeit lopsidedly, and replied "I'd say the same for you, but I'm afraid it wouldn't be too much of a compliment."

"Haven't ever got drunk?"

"No, it's just that it's always been just the pink elephants and me."

"Hey, a sign of a sense of humor. If you keep this up, you're gonna win a lifetime pass to oblivion."

Vincent smiled, leaning back in the booth and watching as Cid walked up to the bar with barely a stagger. Gods, he holds his liquor well, Vincent thought in a bit of a daze. How'd you let yourself get so drunk? he mentally yelled at himself, his mood changing swiftly as his conscience kicked in.

You're going to tell him everything. Then what?

Does it matter?...

Of course it matters, you idiot! Why are you telling Cid, anyway? Of all the people you could have chosen...

He's the only one that's shown any remote interest into how I feel! Why does it matter that I tell him and not someone else?

Cid is the only person who shows you any interest because he's the only person you've shown any sign of emotion toward.

At that point, Vincent just turned his conscience off, though he did take a minute to consider his last thought. It had never really occurred to him that Cid WAS about the only person he'd shown anything other than aloofness and his usual air of depressiveness to.

It was great to finally tell someone about this all. And Cid was actually listening... most everyone on the team was too busy with their own problems, too occupied with preparing to finish off Sephiroth. There wasn't much of anyone to talk to... Tifa and Aeris were busy flirting with and taking care of Cloud; Cloud was busy being messed up in general; Barrett just wasn't someone you could talk to; Cait Sith was a puppet; and while Red XIII would probably be willing to listen, he was more stoical than Vincent himself. Anyway, Cid was willing to get him drunk. Vincent snickered a little to himself at that.

"What're you laughing at now?"

Vincent looked up rather dazedly. "When'd you get here?"

Cid laughed and flopped gracelessly into the booth across from Vincent. "I take that back, about you not hitting oblivion. You're smashed."

"I am not!" Vincent said indignantly.

"The first step to recovery is admitting that you have a problem."

This time, Vincent's laughter knocked some hair into his eyes. Unconsciously, Cid reached across the table and brushed it back. Almost instantly, Cid sobered and retracted his hand. Thank the gods he's too fucking drunk to figure what the hell you're up to, Cid cursed mentally. Vincent was pretty drunk, but he still felt the electricity of Cid's touch. However, he just dismissed it as being drunk... After all, he hadn't had much in the way of liquor for thirty straight years.

"So, where's the new bottle?" he asked, more as something to break the uneasy silence than anything else.

"Well, he said they were all outta that stuff..." Cid started, hoping he didn't sound too relieved at thedistraction. "I'm not surprised, it's probably illegal and made in a bathtub somewhere. Nothing should get people so fucking drunk so fast. I came back to find out if you wanted vodka instead. But you've had enough liver damage for tonite. You're fuckin' sloshed. C'mon, let's go try to get you sobered up, and annoy the hell outta staff while we're at it," Cid replied, getting up.

He helped Vincent out of the booth and they walked to nowhere in particular, trying to work the whatever-the-hell-it-was out of their systems. Vincent obviously was less used to drinking. About five minutes into the walk, the alcohol decided it would work itself out a little faster. He managed to make it to the trashcan, and Cid stood nearby, grinning at all the dirty looks they were getting. When Vincent stopped, Cid turned back to him and managed to fish out a napkin from some fast food restaurant out of one of his pockets and gave it to Vincent. Vincent looked up apologetically after he finished wiping up.

"Hey, don't worry about it. Not all of us can be professional drunkards like me. Here, I think we've properly disgusted this part of the Golden Saucer. Let's go to the restroom, get you washed up. You look like shit."

"Thanks for the compliment, Mr. Highwind. Do you take lessons in tact?" Vincent objected, but with a weak smile.

Cid shook his head and grinned, leading Vincent to the restrooms, standing nearby as Vincent washed his face and neck, trying to sober himself up.

"Shit, it's almost as if you have an advanced hangover. You look like it's already clearing out."

"I wouldn't be surprised. After what Hojo's done to my body..." Vincent suddenly went pale.

"Hey, you OK? You're not gonna puke again, are you?"

"No... No, it's not that. I just... it's hard for me, to talk about Hojo. About Lucrecia. About what happened to my body," he answered softly, holding up his mechanical arm and looking at the glint it reflected from the cheap lighting of the bathroom.

"Well... a seedy casino restroom is no place to talk about it. Come on, let's go somewhere quiet, if those kinds of places exist in this hellhole."

Vincent smiled softly. "You're right... Thank you, Cid," he murmured. "Hey, no problem," Cid replied, grinning. Maybe... he thought briefly before telling himself to just shut the fuck up for once and turning to leave the restroom.

They walked some time, looking for somewhere relatively quiet. They ended up in the wide bay where the car of the Ropeway from South Corel would dock, but now the room was silent, the machine shut down. The ticket seller had since gone home, as well; if the Ropeway was closed, there was no need to check tickets. They sat nearby the entrance to the Golden Saucer, backs up against the wall. Vincent looked forward, staring at nothing, and in a quiet, shaky voice, he started the story of those last few days in Nibelheim.

"Lucrecia... I truly loved her. I may love her still. I really don't know anymore. She's long gone by now, so I suppose it really doesn't matter.

"She was so beautiful... smart, as well... as I've said she was an assistant to Professor Gast. We had dated, a few times. But after a while... I knew it wasn't working out. I don't know what madness caused me to deny that fact. There had been... what I thought then were rumors... that were going around the Turks and other various Shin-ra personnel about how Lucrecia was actually seeing Hojo, not me. I didn't want to believe it. Hojo... he was different then, in Nibelheim, than when I had first met him."

"Yeah... I thought that was kinda odd when you said he wasn't so bad at first, earlier. What happened to him? To make him do all this crazy shit?"

"I don't know. I've wondered that so many times myself. What had made him change into the... thing... he is today. If it could happen again, to someone else. The only thing I ever got it down to was that quite a bit of it was that he was so shadowed by Professor Gast's work. That this whole SOLDIER thing was just him proving himself to everyone. I wonder if this life is a nightmare for him, as well..." Vincent shook his head, rubbing his temples again.

"It doesn't matter. When we were there, in Nibelheim, Hojo was just as misguided as he is now, and just as perverse. Anyone who heard that their girlfriend was cheating on them with HIM..." he started shaking again, enraged, depressed, and guilty all at once. Cid edged toward him and offered him a cigarette. Though Vincent refused it, he shook a little less, anyway. It was as if it had took that much to remind him that Cid was there, it was now, and that he was in a crappy casino in a desert; that he wasn't alone some 30 years ago in an old mansion in a mountain town.

"Despite the fact of his madness she still... loved... him. For a lack of a better word, he spat. I guess I really should have known what they were up to. But I thought she loved me as I did her, so I proposed to her. And she looked at me as if I should have really known better. Which I should have. Then she started crying and ran away. I just stood there. For once, I suppose I knew better.

"That was the first... and last... time I ever really let her go. I wonder now, if she thought of me often, if she regretted, like I did, and do. At the time, though... I saw them once, kissing. I was sickened by it. The woman I loved, kissing that monster... but I loved her so much that I was willing to let her love him. As long as it pleased her.

"And then..." he whispered, burying his face in his hands, "And then I found out. Lucrecia was pregnant.

"I don't know if anyone could ever understand what that's like," the pale man said a bit more clearly, looking back up from his hands, "that feeling I had, like someone had hit me upside the head with a steel bar... I... I knew that of course, it wasn't mine. We had never..." He looked down again, flushing.

Cid bit his lip to stop the impulse to grin at Vincent's modesty. "Hey, don't worry about it. Just go on with the story."

Vincent nodded sharply, and started again, still looking down, "I knew that it was Hojo's child. And it wasn't too long later that I found out that Hojo had not only been injecting himself with mako and Jenova, but was injecting Lucrecia prior to and during the pregnancy... and the fetus, as well."

"Sephiroth?" "Yes... so you see, perhaps Sephiroth isn't the real fiend. He was manipulated, changed, altered... everything... before he was even born."

"Do you think Hojo is to blame? I guess he might have been manipulated, too... you said he used to be different."

"Gods damn you, Cid!" Vincent growled, shocking Cid. "Don't you see that it is my fault?! That I am to blame?"

Cid stared back at him, and took a minute to decide whether to give Vincent hell for blaming himself for everything, or just make him keep talking. He thought that, chances were, he'd never get this close to hearing this story again. So he decided to encourage Vincent to talk more. "I doubt that... what did you do to try and stop them?"

"Not enough... I objected to it, of course. Hojo just said that they were both scientists. I had no control. I was called back to Midgar, had other assignments... but the entire time I just wondered what was happening to Lucrecia. To the unborn child. I chose to remain in the dustbin of history, and for that, I can not forgive myself.

"When Sephiroth was born, I went to Nibelheim as quickly as possible. I didn't ever see Lucrecia again. But, unfortunately, I did see Hojo. I was enraged. I asked him what he thought he was doing to the child, to Lucrecia. He just used the same damned arguments... that he was a scientist, that this child was perfect. Finally... I asked him why he would do this to a woman he loved. That made him snap... and he shot me...

"I don't know what that bastard did to me. He didn't so much as save my life as to make me the demon I am..."

Cid noticed the tightly clenched fist and the tears streaming down Vincent's face. He desperately wanted to give Vincent some sort of comfort, something to edge out the pain.

Fuck it... blame it on the alcohol, if you have to... he thought, as he put his arm around Vincent's shoulders. Not surprisingly, Vincent looked up suddenly the minute Cid's arm was on him. What shocked the hell out of Cid was how Vincent sighed and leaned his head against Cid's chest.

"If I let all the walls down," Vincent whispered, the sound almost lost in the huge room, "would you still like what you see?"

The pilot waited for a moment, trying to calm down his rapid heartbeat. It would be really fucking inconvenient to die of a heart attack right now... Oh, what the fuck... He tilted Vincent's face up towards his own and kissed him softly.

Vincent closed his eyes, allowing the kiss. Maybe encouraging it. He sighed at the feeling of Cid gently parting his lips, running his tongue against his own. He moaned deeply into the kiss, then reached up with his good hand, stroking it through Cid's short, blond hair, and then down the stubbled cheek, trying to reassure himself that this was actually real. That someone, anyone would want to touch him, much less kiss him...

Then, as if that very thought had just occurred to him, Vincent pulled away, out of the kiss. Still sitting, he backed away from Cid in a rush, too quickly, as he fell backwards, catching himself at the last minute by balancing on his claw.

Cid just sat there, shocked, for a moment, looking back into Vincent's stare. Oh, great, now you've done it, you fucking moron. Good luck getting him to ever trust you again.

Scrambling to his feet, Vincent finally broke the silence. "How... how could you kiss me? You must be confused, no one could love something like me." Suddenly, bewilderment turned to anger. "If you knew what was good for you, Highwind, you wouldn't touch me." Vincent turned away and walked back into the Golden Saucer, hair and cape trailing behind him.

Shrugging, Cid lifted himself back to his feet. Hell, I've had worse dates. I doubt this is even really a rejection, he thought, taking out a cigarette and lighting it as he followed Vincent's way. Poor guy has just had a hell of a time in the romance department.


Part 2   |   Fanfiction